11 Most Beautiful Caves Around the World

By Valerie Gasparini
July 17, 2017

From the largest collection of marble in the world to over 2,000 religious sculptures, caves never stop amazing us with their natural and man-made wonders.

Stunning, majestic and complex, these 12 caves make our guide on the most beautiful caves around the world. Come take a trip with us as we explore the deep and dark depths of these natural and historical sites.

11. Sassi di Matera - Matera, Southern Italy

Sassi di Matera caves

Get ready to be surprised. When most travelers set off to Italy, they don’t think to look further than the beautiful hilltop towns, luscious vineyards and exquisite cuisine.

Wanting to venture off the beaten path?

Look no further than Sassi di Matera. Thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited cave dwelling in the world, Sassi di Matera makes our list as a must-see natural wonder.

Dating back to the Stone Age over 9,000 years old, Sassi di Matera attracts visitors from across the world with its city carved into stone. Despite its aesthetic appearance, these cave dwellings carry a dark history of human struggle and resilience.

 Until the late 20th century, cave inhabitants survived here with little to no access to running water or basic supplies from outside. As population size increased, the community had to expand the caves and malaria began running rampant.

But things have changed…

Now named a UNESCO World Heritage site, many of these caves that once represented hardship have been transformed into snug little homes, hotels and restaurants.


Puglia and MateraTrip to Consider: Puglia and Matera Walking Magnifica Tour

8 days from $3,995, Group Tour

Physical Level: Moderate, 4-star

Highlights: Walking tour of Matera, captivating clusters of conical trulli structures, discover the whitewashed town of Ostuni and the beaches near the fishing village of Savelletri, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Alberobello & Matera

10. Batu Cave, Malaysia

Batu Caves

With limestone formation dating back to 400 million years ago, these caves are exploding with human history.

Human existence in these caves can be traced all the way back to indigenous tribes. Today, there are three main caves here featuring Hindu temples and shrines.

You can’t miss…

The main attraction here is giant gold statue dedicated to Lord Murugan, one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India. If you’re up for the challenge climb up 272 steps past the shrine to get a once in a lifetime view of the city centre.

If this beautiful landscape and historic monuments isn’t enough to convince you, maybe some furry friends will be. Monkeys are known to frolic around as visitors bask in the glory of these caves.


MalaysiaTrip to Consider: Explore Malaysia

13 days from $1,340, Small Group Tour

Physical Level: Easy, 3-star

Highlights: Kuala Lumpur - Stroll Through Chinatown And Marvel At The Petronas Towers In Malaysia's Capital, Malacca - Take An Evening River Cruise Through The City, Belum Rainforest, Georgetown - Uncover 'The Pearl Of The Orient' And Try Some Wonderful Street Food In Penang, Batu Cave

9. Škocjan Cave, Slovenia

skocjan cave in slovenia

A truly unique natural phenomenon, the Škocjan caves have made their presence known as an international treasure.

The cave was actually carved out by the Reka River over many years, creating underground wetlands in the area. Škocjan cave even has the largest subterranean canyon in all of Europe, reaching close to 500 feet high. Many go so far as to refer to it as the “underground Grand Canyon”.

The first written records that mention these caves goes back as early as the 2nd century B.C, but archaeologists have found remains and evidence of human life starting around 3,000 B.C.

Watch out for...

Some friendly friends swimming beneath you in the river. These caves are home to an odd inhabitant- the blind cave salamander, also known as the human fish for their human embryo like appearance.


SloveniaTrip to Consider: Alpine Lakes Of Slovenia

8 days from $1180, Small Group

Physical Level: Easy, 3-star

Highlights : Lake Bled - Picturesque Town With An Attractive Lake And Islet, Triglav National Park - Walks In The Julian Alps From Tranquil Lake Bohinj And The Chance To Participate In Mountain Biking Or Whitewater Rafting, Skocjan Caves - Spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site & more

8. Fingal's Cave, Scotland

fingals cave in scotland

Looking for a eerie experience that will have you feeling as if magic is in the air?

This isolated sea cave is well known for its perfect geometry, formed completely from hexagonal columns of basalt from a Paleocene lava flow. Standing at 72 feet tall and 270 feet deep, this is one of the most aesthetically pleasing caves around the world.

As the waves crash, the sound is echoed off the arched ceiling creating beautiful natural acoustics. The history and origins of the cave are unclear, but stories of folklore and mystery only add to visitors fascination with the natural wonder.


ScotlandTrip to Consider: Wild Scotland

12 days from $6,280, Small Group Tour

Physical level: Very Easy, 4-star

Highlights: Explore By Zodiac, And Have Whales And Dolphins Swim Alongside You, Photograph Some Of The World's Largest Sea Bird Colonies, Discover Picturesque Villages And Medieval Hamlets On Some Of Scotland's Least-Visited Tiny Islands, Sail With Otters And Seals, Uncover The Rugged And Wild Side Of Scotland

7. Phraya Nakhon Cave, Thailand

Phraya Nakhon Cave

Amazing temples tucked away in hidden caves, sounds like an Indiana Jones movie right?

Well, Phraya Nakhon cave brings this to life as one of the most beautiful and mysterious landmarks in all of Thailand. The cave is located in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, and accessible by foot or boat.

The cave consists of two chambers, but is most well known for its main chamber with the Kuha Karuhas pavilion. A hole in the top of the ceiling allows sunlight to penetrate the cave chambers, creating a mystical feeling for those who enter.


Krabi BeachTrip to Consider: Simply Thailand

12 days from $856, Small Group Tour

Physical level: Easy, 3-star

Highlights: Bangkok - Explore The Markets And Street Food, Khao Sam Roi Yort - Discover The Beautiful Cave Pagoda Of Phraya Nakhon And Spend A Night Camping On A Deserted Beach, Khao Sok National Park, Relax On The White-Sand Beaches Of Krabi

6. Caves of the Thousand Buddhas - Gansu Province, Western China

Cave of the Thousand Buddhas

A treasure trove of Buddhist art, the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas actually holds over 2,000 religious sculptures spanning over five floors.

The roughly 400 caves in this complex are located in the desert, and historically acted as a busy checkpoint on the Silk Road, linking China and the West. Over 50,000 documents, paintings and other artifacts have been discovered hidden away in these caves.

The artwork in particular (starting in the 5th century), shows how the Buddhists were influenced by Persian, Greek, and Indian culture, most likely from the Silk Road travelers they encountered.


MyanmarTrip to Consider: Cycle Myanmar (Burma)

14 days from $3,025, Small Group Tour, Physical level: Moderate, 3-star

Highlights: Cycle to Inthein pagodas, cruise on Inle Lake, cycle across Shan Highland to Pindaya and visit Pindaya caves, visit U-Bein Bridge, cycle/drive to Monywa, visit cave of a thousand Buddhas, explore Bagan temple complex by bike

5. The Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy

The Blue Grotto

Jump aboard a small wooden rowboat, experience a few short moments of complete darkness, and then find yourself transported into a whole new world.

What do you see?

Walls illuminated by the crystal clear blue water below.

You are now in the Blue Grotto sea cave.

There is a reason this is the most visited sight in Capri, Italy. The sunlight that passes through a small hole shines through the blue sea creating a unique blue reflection throughout the cave. Besides being a beautiful natural wonder, the Blue Grotto used to be a marine temple used by the ancient Romans.


ItalyTrip to Consider: Sail Italy - Amalfi to Procida 

4 days from $549, Small Ship Cruise

Physical level: Easy, 3-star

Highlights: Experience the olive groves, ancient villages and medieval architecture of Amalfi, Explore the caves of Capri’s Grotta Azzura and swim in the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean, relax by the sea in Procida, taste some of the freshest seafood in the world

4. The Reed Flute Cave, Guangxi, China

Reed Flute Cave

Attracting the attention of people for over 1,200 years, The Reed Flute Cave is also known as “The Palace of Natural Arts” for its beauty.

So, where did this interesting name come from?

The cave gets its name from a special type of reed that grows throughout the cave, which is used to make flutes. Now it makes sense right?

 The rock formations and stone pillars throughout the area are illuminated by iconic colored lights that make for a perfect picturesque image.

 The ink inscriptions that line the walls of this magnificent cave can be traced all the way back to the 8th century during the Tang Dynasty.


ChinaTrip to Consider: 13 Day China Golden Route Gold Experience

13 days from $4,799, Group Tour

Physical level: Easy, Luxury 5-star

Highlights: Visit Tiananmen Square and the extravagant Ming-era Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City, visit the renowned Great Wall, visit an extraordinary Terracotta Warriors, enjoy a scenic cruise along Li River, see the dramatic rock formations at Reed Flute Cave and Fu Bo Hill

3. Skaftafell Ice Caves, Iceland

Skaftafell Ice Caves

A true winter wonderland, Skaftafell Ice Caves is one of the most famous ice caves in the world that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

This ice cave is located on top of the Vatnajökull glacier- the largest glacier in all of Europe! The ice found here is centuries old, and the cave was most likely formed by a volcanic spring under the glacier.

Snap, crackle, pop…. What was that?

Don’t be alarmed! Part of the unique experience this cave offers is the sound effects it makes as it glides across the Vatnajökull glacier.


IcelandTrip to Consider: Southern Iceland Winter Explorer

8 days from $3,485, Small Group Tour

Physical level: Moderate, 3-star

Highlights: Visit Skaftafell and enjoy an easy glacier walk, drive to Jokulsarlon the glacial lagoon filled with mesmerising icebergs, see Gullfoss Waterfall, tour of the Hellisheidarvirkjun geothermal heating plant, morning visit to Leidarendi lava tube cave

2. Marble Caves, Chile

Marble Caves

Ever thought about where the largest reservoir of natural marble in the world it?

I’ll give you a hint…

 It’s hidden deep among the Patagonian Mountains in Chile…

The Marble Caves! This mystical place almost seems unreal with all of its patterns and colors, but was actually formed over 6,000 years ago. The constant crashing of water from Lake General Carrera nearby created a natural variance in the shade of blue and swirling shape this marble took on.

The caves are only accessible by boat, but don’t forget to look down when you get there as the crystal-clear water allows you to witness even more rock formations below.


ChileTrip to Consider: An Austral Adventure in Aysen

10 days from $5,127, Private-Guided

Physical level: Easy, Luxury 5-star

Highlights: Explore Santiago de Chile, enjoy kayaking through the Marble caves, enjoy ice trek over Glacier Exploradores, gear yourself up for a rafting experience on Baker river, discover Queulat National Park

1. Waitomo Glowworm Caves - North Island, New Zealand

waitomo glowworm caves new zealand

Only a cave that sparkles this bright could make it as number 1 on our list. Truly unmatched by anything else in the world, the Waitomo Glowworm cave is illuminated by thousands of native New Zealand glow worms.

As if you were suddenly transported into outer space, the cave shines bright with long glowing threads made of mucus and silk (aka glowworms).

This cave is part of the Waitomo cave system, including the Ruakuri and Aranui Cave as well. To get there, enjoy a boat ride where you will become part of over 120 years of history for this natural wonder.


New ZealandTrip to Consider: New Zealand 10 Day Seat In Coach

10 days from $3,359, Group tour

Physical level: Easy, Premium- 4 star

Highlights: Visit the Auckland war memorial museum, enjoy a guided tour through the famous Glowworm caves, enjoy a leisurely cruise on Milford sound, experience an optional helicopter or ski plane flight before heading to Christ church



Ready to experience some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world? Here are over 2,000 tours featuring caves on Stride.

Share and Enjoy
       
1426 Views    1 Comments
Comments
By Kit
July 21, 2017 at 9:46 AM
Wow - this is incredible! I've always wanted to visit the New Zealand glowworm caves.
Reply

Write New Comment

Tours & Operators on Stride Awarded and Featured by:

  • National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure
  • Outside, The New York Times
×
×
Sign in to Save Trips
Welcome back! We're so happy to see you. ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
  • Bookmark trips you like
  • Share with your travel companions
  • Track price changes
  • Access private discounts on trips you save
×
Sign in to see your results

TripFinder is a member-only feature. Don’t worry, it’s free!

With a membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
×
Activate your free Stride membership

Just use the email address and password provided in the email we sent.

? Forgot Password?

With your free membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
×
To Follow, sign in or sign up (it's free) ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
member benefits
First name is required!
Last name is required!
First name is not valid!
Last name is not valid!
This is not an email address!
Email address is required!
This email is already registered!
Please enter valid email address
Password is required!
Enter a valid password!
Please enter 6 or more characters!
Please enter 16 or less characters!
Passwords are not the same!
Terms and Conditions are required!
Email or Password is wrong!
Please select the captcha checkbox!
Please select the valid captcha!
Something went wrong! Try again later!
Find the 3 best trips for you.
Take a short quiz to recieve your top matches.